Living with asthma

Sometimes thought of as a childhood disease, asthma symptoms can develop for anyone at any age, with an estimated 1 in 9 Australians living with asthma. When diagnosed later in life, elderly people can be surprised that the wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath they may be experiencing is in fact, asthma.

Fortunately, living a fulfilling life with asthma is possible. Elderly people need to be ready for a flare up at any time, however with the right preparation and support, they can enjoy the same activities as a person who is not living with asthma.

When supporting someone elderly with asthma, it is important to be aware of what their triggers are and assist them to avoid or manage them.  Some practical steps for support in avoiding common asthma irritants include:

  • Being aware of severe weather conditions. Dry and windy conditions can increase air pollution, so during these times seniors with asthma should avoid going outside. When this is not practical, it is recommended that appointments or shopping is done in the early morning.
  • Avoid smoky environments. When spending time with family or friends who smoke, ask them to do so outside to avoid exposure.
  • Use a spacer. A spacer gives people more time to inhale, and is especially effective for seniors as it reduces the need for coordination when pressing the inhaler and breathing in the medicine. Using a spacer also extends the amount of time the inhaler takes to deliver the medicine, meaning the lungs absorb the medicine more slowly and smoothly.
  • Get assistance with cleaning. Household dust and molds are a common asthma irritant, so regularly cleaning the house can help to minimise exposure to these irritants. Our In-Home Companion Care service can provide personalised support to assist with household chores.

Often, elderly people with asthma are not aware of changes in their breathing until someone else notices. In these instances, you should encourage them to continue using their prescribed medication as instructed, and see their GP if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Needing more of the dilator medication than usual;
  • Finding it hard to walk ‘usual’ distances;
  • Frequently short of breath;
  • Feeling flat or lacking energy; or
  • Coughing more than usual.

When supporting someone living with asthma, it’s important to be able to spot the warning signs of symptoms worsening. If you require assistance or support to help manage your loved ones asthma, contact us to schedule an in-home appointment.  

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